EU partners with Gates Foundation to end global undernutrition

‘Nutrition is an investment in our collective future, in the potential of individuals’

The European Union says it is committed to reducing the number of children who are chronically undernourished by at least seven million by 2025.

Speaking at the European Development Days (EDD) forum on international cooperation in Brussels on Wednesday, the EU commissioner for international cooperation and development Neven Mimica said the EU would work in partnership with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to tackle the global challenge of undernutrition.

He announced the EU would provide an additional €23.5 million in funding for the new National Information Platforms on Nutrition (NIPN) which aims to significantly reduce the number of chronically undernourished children globally.

“We have made huge progress towards meeting the Millennium Development Goal of eradicating extreme poverty and hunger by 2015,” said Mr Mimica. “But until every child is properly nourished we cannot reduce our efforts.”


Undernutrition remains one of the world’s biggest development challenges with millions of children dying of hunger-related diseases every year. Babies who miss out on proper nourishment during the critical first 1,000 day period from the mother’s pregnancy until the child’s second birthday are more likely to face life-long physical stunting and chronic health problems.

Undernutrition among children under the age of two weakens the child's immune system, making them more susceptible to death from pneumonia, diarrhoea and malaria. According to the World Food Programme, one in nine people in the world are undernourished.

Ending hunger and achieving food security and improved nutrition by 2030 is one of the proposed Sustainable Development Goals which are set to replace the Millennium Development Goals in September.

Melinda Gates, who was speaking in Brussels at the EDD event, announced the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation would more than double its investments for global nutrition to $776 million (€695 million) over the next six years as part of the group's dedicated commitment to nutrition. It also announced a new $500,000 (€444,116) grant to support the EU's NIPN initiative.

“Nutrition is an investment in our collective future, in the potential of individuals, communities and nations,” said Ms Gates. “One of the most profound things I’ve learned in the foundation’s first 15 years is the critical role that women and girls play in reducing poverty and improving health. From their leadership as farmers, entrepreneurs and consumers to their role as mothers; investment in women and girls will be key to improving nutrition globally.”

Ms Gates praised European governments for their contribution to overseas development aid but added that millions of children are still dying from poor nutrition, highlighting the importance of European support at the upcoming Financing for Development conference in Addis Ababa in July.

“It is not acceptable that a quarter of children around the world are stunted - physically and mentally - and will never achieve their full potential. We must do more to address this.”

Sorcha Pollak

Sorcha Pollak

Sorcha Pollak is an Irish Times reporter and cohost of the In the News podcast